Dread Nation – Justina Ireland – Review
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to dead began to walk at Gettysburg. Life is flipped on its head, when the dead no longer stay dead. Jane is raised in a world where survival is the most important aspect of life.
Jane is sent to Miss Preston’s School of Combat. Here she learns her place, learning survival skills to keep the rich white people alive. Life quickly falls apart around her. Jane realizes there is more going on then just the dead walking. She learns she needs to step up, take charge and save not only herself but those she cares about.
This book was all over my Twitter for quite a while. Many of my favorite authors were raving about it which heightened my interest in the story. I was hooked at the idea of zombies in the Civil War era. In the end this one definitely lived up to the hype.
One of the elements I loved most about this book was the idea of zombies in the Civil War era. This was new and fresh. All the stories I know that involve zombies are set in our modern times. I have not read or seen anything where zombies exist in a different time period.
Setting the story here gives the story the ability to do something new and different. We get to see how people would fight this threat without our modern technology and knowledge. It is interesting because it doesn’t seem like a hindrance to them. As I read I wondered if this would be the ideal time to have this kind of thing happen. These people all know how to fight to survive and thus are able to survive longer.
Another aspect I found interesting was the fact that this wasn’t about a complete apocalypse situation. They aren’t living in the woods or running from place to place. At first it seems like the plague is under control, at least in a sense. Not all hope is lost. They have managed to live life as usual with this threat, something you don’t usually see. Of course, there is more than meet the eye but I liked this fresh take on the situation.
I also liked the idea that the “shambles” or zombies are learning. They evolved throughout the story. I think there is potential for some serious interesting aspects to this zombies throughout the rest of the series.
Jane was a fantastic character. Not only was she strong but she was real. Sometimes these kind of characters are one we think have to be strong at all times. They don’t break which isn’t realistic. People are going to break when they are hurt. People all have their breaking points. It is only human to be vulnerable sometimes.
Jane’s character emphasizes this in a great way. She is able to stand up for herself when she needs to. She is a fighter that won’t take any crap but she is also human. She falls and needs to find a way to stand back up again. I admired her character. I felt like she was someone I could relate too. I am very interested to see how her character grows throughout the story.
This book is about race relations. You would think that in the zombie apocalypse race would not the a thing that would divivde people but that is not true. In this world African American’s are not slaves but they are still enslaved. They are thought of being only useful to fight to keep the white people alive. It is preached that this is their punishment for being who they are. It is infuriating but it hits on points that need to be hit on.
This explores topics in a way that feel modern and present day. I think this does a great job at portraying one way of life while commenting on things that relate to us now. Nothing felt preachy but it made its points in a great way.
I enjoyed the story a lot. I loved Jane and Katherine. I just wish we had learned more about Jack. I feel like he has a good story to him. He seems misunderstood and I wanted to see more of him. I hope we see more in the coming books. I want him to be a deep character and I think he has great potential.
There was nothing that threw me out of the story. I was wrapped up in the tale the whole time and wish I had the next book right now.
I gave this 5 stars on Goodreads. The story was fresh take on a stale topic, had great characters and was able to make comments about race and race relations in a strong way.
“Sometimes you have to live down to people’s expectations, Kate. If you can do that, you’ll get much further in life.” (pg. 63)
“Lots of ways to pretty up the same old evils.” (pg. 243)
“It seems strange that in these very fraught times folks would be more concerned about hardworking people trying to find a better life than the monsters that actually want to eat them.” (pg. 360).
“See, the problem in this world ain’t sinners, or even the dead. It is men who will step on anyone who stands in the way of their pursuit of power.” (pg. 435)